Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Book" group

In my little corner of the world, Christmas ornaments are a big deal. I sell them at the artist cooperative where I am a member and we all work long and hard to make new and different ornaments every year, somehow incorporating our media into a new interpretation. Some members can make half of their year's earnings at the co-op on Christmas ornaments. The cooperative resides in a little artistic community where the local residents look forward to coming in and buying new ornaments from their favorite artist. Travelers from out of town who peek into the gallery are always delighted to see a real Christmas tree covered in all kinds of handmade ornaments, from hand-blown glass balls to angels made out of corn husks, and buy them up as hostess gifts and holiday party favors. It is delightful and magical, but takes a lot of work. The creative process begins over the summer and then the experimenting starts as soon as September comes so they are all done, tagged and delivered to the market before Thanksgiving.

For one of the ideas that I was playing around with, I needed a few wine corks. I reached out to my "book" group to see if any of the women in the group had a few lying around that I could take. I chuckled when, within a day, I got bag full of them.

[Sidebar story: I adore my "book" group. We began meeting together more than 16 years ago, when we all had babies and toddlers and needed adult conversation. We were a disparate group of women, cobbled together by word-of-mouth, with a range of more than a decade between the youngest and oldest. We had (and have) very different lives and family structures from each other, but there was something quite magical when we came together that has never left us. We have held each other up through deaths, family crises, a divorce, new business challenges and the bumps and bruises of parenting. We have celebrated new degrees, new businesses, new jobs, books being published, and have even had sleepovers and a trip together. When we refer to our meetings together, we call it "book" group with air quotes because we have only read a handful of books. From the get-go, we clearly enjoyed the wine, food and clever company far more than anything literary. We are loud and bawdy, we never have surface conversations and we drink a stunning amount of alcohol.]

I started tinkering with an idea that I had for the ornaments and worked for about two days when I stepped back and realized it was completely unsuccessful. Sometimes I have a vision so clear in my head that just doesn't work out once I start playing with the materials. I scrapped the idea completely but then I had this huge bag of wine corks… I took to my Thinking Chair (http://paperandpulp.blogspot.com/2015/09/my-thinking-chair.html) with my bag full of corks on my lap and absentmindedly sorted through them. The more I looked at them, the more I was impressed with what little pieces of art they were. Some had really pretty script writing on them or intricate designs, others had tiny little pictures: an owl, a fish, grapes, a pegasus, leaves. Partly out of love for recycling and partly out of love for their newly-discovered beauty, I decided I would figure out a way to use the corks for my ornaments. But rather than being the structural element that I wanted them to be in my first design, I would honor them and make them the featured part of the ornament.

And that's how these little angel ornaments were born. I added a wooden ball, some brown paper recycled from being used as shipping material in a box. Then I used some handmade paper that I had created from old sewing patterns for the wings. http://paperandpulp.blogspot.com/2015/09/sewing-patterns.html

Stories are important to me. I love making art from items that have a story in them, and I feel like these angels are happy little creatures, made even happier from the stories behind them - all those "book" groups, the family dinners, special occasions and celebrations where a bottle of wine was popped and poured.

I have made about 50 of them so far for the coop, but saved a couple to sell in my Etsy shop. You can find one of them here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/19178700

Feel free to contact me through my Etsy shop for others. Happy Holidays!

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